B&L: What animal do you associate yourself with (given our ties to oxen)?
Cory Branan: None really. I suppose ape in the literal sense of association.
B&L: Why music? Why do you seek it? Why do you create it? How’d it come calling to you?
Branan: I’m sure growing up in a musical family in a musically rich part of the country (Mississippi – just south of Memphis) lended a certain inevitability to at least a peripheral involvement with music. The songwriting I’m compelled to do. The touring I enjoy but mainly it’s because I don’t care to ever hang sheetrock again.
B&L: What’s the making of a great show?
Branan: For me, the spontaneous ephemera of the thing. I mean, you could bootleg it but it isn’t the same. It cannot be replicated or repeated. Lorca lays it out more eloquently in his lecture “in search of duende”.
B&L: Let’s talk about your latest record, “Adios.” What sort of goals you had for yourself when you set out to make this record? You’re not leaving yet, are you?
Branan: No real goals other than the usual make an impression on myself. I only try to over prepare with the songwriting. Then for the studio I try to cut fast and loose with underprepared overqualified musicians.
B&L: I like the one sheet that claims the record is a “loser’s survival kit.” What’s the feedback been like? Any winners reaching out?
Branan: The album seems to be connecting well.
B&L: Is songwriting an easy or arduous process for you? Are you a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants kind of writer, or do you schedule “office hours”?
Branan: I tend to jot stuff here and there as I tour and then try and take advantage of any still time to put the other hat on. There’s no real schedule and any hopes I may have had for one were out the window after my kiddos were born. But I’m making it work.
B&L: You’re certainly no prisoner to a specific genre tag. What do you appreciate about exploring all the different musical colors that exist?
Branan: For me it’s the natural extension of me as a songwriter not really subscribing in a personal way to any of the signifiers of geography, sex, class etc. Pretty sure it was Keats that talked about a writer needing to have a “negative capability,” or being a blank to fill in details of others experiences into the writing. Not that my personal experience and bias isn’t all over the stuff but that “negative capability” is what I’m shooting for. And since the songs themselves come from wherever it’s easy to give myself license to use the sounds (genre) of whatever feels natural to the story.
B&L: Was there a moment or experience in particular that led you to chase life as a professional songwriter / performer? What was the “yeah, that’s what I want to do” moment?
Branan: Honestly no. I just kinda wandered into the woods and now I sleep in trees and know what plants to avoid. Hearing the music of John Prine was important though.
B&L: What are you looking for folks to take away from the music of Cory Branan when they place themselves in a position to experience it?
Branan: Some merch. I got kids. I dunno… a trust that if they’ll stick with me past the first verse I’ll take them somewhere worth tagging along for by the end of every song.
B&L: What’s one tune (or, heck, a couple) that exists out there in the ether that blows you away that you kind of wish you had written yourself?
Branan: “Beeswing” – Richard Thompson
B&L: What can folks expect when they come out to see you perform at the Word Barn on September 13th?
Branan: They can expect a one of a kind, one-time experience. Like every night.
B&L: Question number 12. If you could have a dozen of anything, what would that dozen of something be?
Branan: Transferable wishes.
Cory Branan will visit the Word Barn on Thursday, September 13th. The inimitable Kate Redgate will kick things off with a bang at approximately 8pm sharp. For tickets and information visit: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3598887